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A blissful family break at the new Phokaia Beach Resort in Turkey

Along with the weather, there is always another variable that can make or break your holiday: the hidden extras.

You can have the best room, with the finest view in the hotel, but it still grates when they slap on a charge for wi-fi or make you sign for every last cappuccino at breakfast. And, of course, with every transaction comes the expectation of yet another tip.

It all adds up over the course of a week and can cast quite a cloud over your final day when it is time to settle up.

Club Mark Warner’s new Phokaia Beach Resort sits on its own mile-wide lagoon 

Hence the appeal of the all-inclusive holiday. And it is not always just about having your meals provided — our holiday had all the kit thrown in, too.

After decades of organising family holidays all over Europe, Club Mark Warner has a simple summer formula: lay on as many activities as a family might reasonably manage in a day, along with a very substantial all-inclusive breakfast, lunch and dinner. We chose its new Phokaia Beach Resort on Turkey’s Aegean Coast.

The idea was to get our three children — aged eleven, nine and six — more interested in sailing. As a family who enjoy the occasional yachting getaway, I was keen for them to absorb the basics.

But we wanted all the spontaneous fun of a proper beach holiday, too. I liked the idea of everyone being able to jump on and off a windsurfer, dinghy or kayak as the mood took them — without being charged by the hour, and safe in the knowledge that they were being properly supervised.

The children were each offered a different kids’ club, according to their age. There might be badminton or tennis on top of sailing and windsurfing every morning and afternoon.

The enthusiastic Royal Yachting Association-qualified instructors were far better at teaching my lot than I have ever been. One turned out to be a professional yachtsman from Cowes on the Isle of Wight, and many have been doing summers with Mark Warner for years.

Safe and sound: Mark Warner’s Phokaia Beach Resort is action-packed for families

Safe and sound: Mark Warner’s Phokaia Beach Resort is action-packed for families

It meant that I could read books while my wife did a sailing course for adult beginners and, later on, we could all go sailing together.

The Phokaia Beach Resort — about a 90-minute drive from the easyJet terminal at Izmir — sits on its own mile-wide lagoon. A fleet of patrol boats ensures no one ever drifts out of range. A part of the bay is reserved for water-skiing and a free session is part of the all-inclusive deal.

The resort itself consists of a central hotel building, plus villas scattered across voluptuous gardens.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on a panoramic terrace above the huge swimming pool, with buffets spanning every cuisine in the book.

If you need something bespoke (we have one child with an allergy, which meant ordering a few special dishes), it is all part of the service.

Best of all were the skewers of meat and freshly landed bonito fish, produced over fire pits each night by teams of local chefs.

Some Club Mark Warner resorts also include free wine at dinner, though not this one. However, thanks to the state of the Turkish lira, a good bottle of rosé costs around £12 and the beer is probably the cheapest in the Mediterranean.

There will be extras — for drinks and ice creams between meals, or for one-on-one sailing or waterskiing lessons — but prices are still modest. There are enough sun loungers for all, so there is no need for a dawn stampede. A few people never seemed to stir from the poolside sunbeds (when I say ‘bed’, some are king-size four-posters).

I met a few energetic guests who never even went near a boat. Some had spent all week in the daily tennis tournaments, while one family loved mountain biking in the hills along this dramatic coast. A cycle shop with free bikes and daily peloton outings is also part of the deal.

All-inclusive it may be, but this is not one of those resort hotels that’s cut off from the outside world. It’s a five-minute taxi ride to the pretty town of Foca, with its waterfront bars and market.

Come the end of the week, all the kids’ clubs put on a show in the open-air theatre and there were races out on the water.

We left a good deal more ship-shape than when we arrived, albeit rather spoilt, too.

At Club Mark Warner, you just choose your boat or windsurfer and it is simply handed to you fully rigged, in the water and ready to go. There’s no need to hoist a sail, let alone drag the thing in and out on a trolley.

At the end of our week, we drove down the coast to pick up the boat I had rented through the yacht hire website Zizoo.

I decided that a few days of family sailing would be the perfect way to help all this newfound experience sink in. Indeed it was.

After a week of all-inclusivity, however, it can come as a bit of a shock that you need to cook your own breakfast!


Seven nights at the Phokaia Beach Resort (0333 305 9795, cost from £649 per person (five nights full-board, two half-board). Includes flights, transfers, watersports, tennis and cycling activities. Childcare is available. Zizoo boat hire from £22 per person per night (020 3318 3641,


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